There is advice going around that tells new writers to just write. They’ll get better if they just write. I’m going to go out on my own personal soapbox (which is teetering, because who needs a box of soap big enough to stand on?) and say, no. Don’t just write and think you’re going to get better.
Let’s see how that works in other occupations:
- Just do taxes. Eventually you’ll get it right.
- Just treat patients. Eventually you’ll learn medicine.
- Just slap paint on the canvas. Eventually you’ll make a pretty picture.
I could go on, but that would be silly… just like the advice. You can’t “just write” and think you’ll be a better writer. Here’s what you can do to be a better writer:
- Write daily until it becomes a habit. The habit will serve you well.
- Read about writing. If you’re not regularly reading “how to write” or grammar books, taking courses, or learning more about the craft, it’s going to be very hard to improve.
- Critique and edit your own writing.
- Critique and edit others’ writing (it’s easier to see the parts that need a rewrite when it’s not your own).
- Have other people critique and edit your writing. Then don’t sit and argue with them. Don’t take it personally. See what you can learn from it.
- Read good writing. You learn from the masters. I can’t stress this enough.
Seriously (and I try really hard to not be serious for long, so listen up), uneducated writers, even if they have talent, aren’t doing the craft any favors. Every writer (I don’t do many absolutes, either) should:
- Write consistently (if not daily, pick your regularity and do it; I take off one day a week).
- Take one course on writing craft each year. Free courses count.
- Take one course on writing technique a year (grammar, punctuation, styles). Free counts. Books count.
- Critique and be critiqued.
- Read widely.
That’s it. Don’t just write. Write with the intention of becoming a better writer.
By the way, if you are following me, commenting, or reading and I haven’t returned the favor yet, I will. I am making note of who visits me. I will be visiting you all after the challenge ends. I just cannot carve out enough time to write blogs, read blogs, do poetry, and keep up with my WIP all at the same time. When the blog moves to twice a week, I will read on two of the days I’m currently writing. Promise!
What do you do to improve as a writer?